Wednesday, August 20, 2014

#Openbadges Simplest Possible Message about Open Badges

I've been working with colleagues to try and refine a very simple message about #Openbadges .

Here is work in progress - it is aimed at a Scottish schools audience but could be used in a range of contexts when introducing the concept of Open Badges - comments welcome !

Digital /Open Badges – What Exactly Are They?

This is a guide prepared for an audience who may never have heard of Digital / Open badges.

Badges are not a new phenomenon in learning.  The Girl Guide and Scout Association and many other organisations have used badges to reward achievement or to recognise skills development for many years. 

To earn a badge the recipient has to meet a certain level of competency or demonstrate a specific attribute.

Digital Badges are really just a simple extension of this philosophy into the digital age.  Digital badges rather than being physical artefacts handed out and  then sewn on to a sleeve are issued digitally and are designed to be displayed on the web.

The advantage that a digital badge has over a cloth badge is that a digital badge can contain a lot of additional information (called meta data).  This additional information might include details of the organisation and individual who awarded the badge, the specific competencies the learner has demonstrated and even contain  links to some of the learners work to illustrate their competence.

So a digital badge becomes an on-line way for a learner to show evidence of their learning.  The badge could be called a data rich digital icon.

The open in the heading comes from the technology that has been used to support the creation of digital badges. The Mozilla foundation has created some open source systems that allow any organisation to build, design and issue an open digital badge. There is now an open community established around the initial products and they are developing the software further. The tools to build open digital badges are freely available to any individual or organisation. There are links to some of these in the reference section at the end of this document.

The illustration below captures the idea of how metadata can be embedded in a digital open badge.

 “Badge Anatomy” by Class Hack. Creative Commons license CC BY-SA

Badges could be suitable for everyone whatever their age or previous accomplishments. Badges can recognise and communicate an individuals ' skills and achievements and display them in online environments – such as social media profiles – in ways that may help with future career and education opportunities.

 Employers, organisations, schools, colleges and universities could gain a richer picture of an individual’s learning by exploring the meta-data behind a badge.

The philosophy of open badges in the recognition of wider achievements could sit well with the principles of the Curriculum for Excellence.

In October 2013 the Scottish Qualifications Authority issued some guidance to colleges, community and work-based learning providers encouraging them to consider the adoption of open badges.  A number of Colleges and work based learning organisations in Scotland are now issuing and using badges and there are a number of case studies now available.

Institutions globally are seeing the potential benefits of issuing badges. These include NASA, the Girl Scouts, New York Education Authority , Khan Academy, Google News, MIT, Harvard, The Open University and City and Guilds

Why think about using Badges?

  • To recognise small steps in learning - smaller than SCQF – and/or steps towards a qualification;
  •  To create a culture of learning and achievement and support innovative ways of recognising learning and achievement.
  • To motivate learners to come aboard and take advantage of the opportunities on offer;
  • To build the confidence and self-esteem of current non-participants in learning;
  • To support profiling of learners
  • To motivate staff to develop skills and accumulate learning which will improve practice
  • To be recognised as early adopter of new approaches.

What are the current challenges?

  • To use a digital badge a learner needs to have digital place to put these. Not all learnersespecially in Early Years and Primary sectors  may  have a suitable place to position an open digital  badge.
  •  The technology is new and is still undergoing ongoing development. In some cases it demands a level of technical skills set be available if you are thinking about designing and building badges or creating a badge issuing system. However, there are a number of organisations who can support you through the process.

Find out more

·       JISC Regional Support Centre Scotland co-ordinating Scottish Open Badges Group;
·       The JISC Regional Support Centre have a range of case studies showing open badges in operation
·       Across the UK there is growing interest in badges =
·       The SQA Academy – are building badges linked to General Teaching Council Teacher Standards;
·       A template for thinking about badge design A platform for building and awarding badges
·       The Scottish Qualifications Authority, Scottish Government and Education Scotland taking active interest
·       Universities are  looking at range of models; The Open University in Scotland are currently working in a specific initiative.
·       Lot of interest from Industry who are using badging for their internal CPD
·       Look out for Digital Design days run by a range of agencies  that  help folks figure out how to design, create , issue badges

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014

#LTaward #ALT ALT Learning Technologist of the Year

I know there are lots of pockets of excellence in ICT all across Scotland in Universities , Colleges , Schools and in Adult and Community Education. 

Here is a chance to give some of these unseen heroes of learning some recognition and this is a chance too to shine a light on great institutional practice.

In a year of hype around massive open on-line courses and apocalyptic predictions around the future of institutional learning as we know it - never has there been a better time to celebrate the folk who simply make the technology work for our learners.

The ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Awards: Entry deadline extended to 30 May 2014

Every year, ALT recognises and rewards those who are making excellent use of learning technology in education.

Past recipients include school teachers, academics, researchers and learning technologists from all sectors of education.

The awards are sponsored by the University of London Computer Centre (ULCC) and supported by Nesta.  More information on how to enter, see

Thursday, April 03, 2014

#dlld14 Cognitive Dissonance

Really just finally getting around to a reflective post on an unexpected opportunity I had about two weeks ago to speak for an hour to a group of post graduate secondary school teachers in training at Strathclyde University . Thanks Cristina Costa for inviting me.  Felt massive empathy as  I did the same course 1986 at Jordanhill Campus - English and History .

I spoke to them about all the new things already happening in the online world of learning . I did warn then at the start that they would experience some cognitive dissonance in that the world I was describing of reflective blogs , e-portfolios , on-line assessment on demand , open educational resources, open badges , MOOCs for school pupils, individualised learning pathways  ; would not be the world that they were currently experiencing .

But it will be the world they experience within the next five years . Well some of it . The tyranny of the timetable will still constrain options available to learners.

The feedback and questions at end of the session were excellent. It was great to meet an enthusiastic and motivated bunch of new teachers . The dissonance for me was that here was a group learning about learning technology but still grappling with the fact that many of the services that they can use in the University are blocked in schools. The Challenge was not just around filtering, one student told me of a school history department struggling to get enough computer access in a school to access the primary sources needed for the new highers. But question was framed   "How could SQA expect teachers to deliver these new courses without the correct resources ?" .  We talked about how subjects changed and the importance now of primary sources or in other areas data management . I hope I convinced them that keeping professional skills up to date and having access to the right tools is not all about the SQA . The rate of course change is only going to get faster in the future and more individualised. We need all the support agencies lined up around this and the resources of local authorities too as well as a professional outlook on continuing professional development.

What can you do with classes who hate maths ?  On exploration it  sounded a bit like a school who hates maths and hoped my answers about numeracy and literacy across the curriculum helped. There are lots of apps and sites that try it make maths stimulating and engaging and it is a life skill. 

You could feel too some folks questioning learning of new skill sets or about new online resources if they were blocked at an institutional level . Remember learning happens  everywhere now. You and your learners can access lots of these resources at home and lots of other places . But there is a real issue around giving all learners access to a browser - how can we help learners who don't have internet access ?

GLOW I thought how many of you use GLOW ?  I think four hands went up,  which is a real shame as the new system is looking amazing .  You need to all go and log on and have a look around the new GLOW with Microsoft 365 I understand that all teacher training institutions can give you access to  GLOW ?

Teachers do need to be skilled in making the best use of all available resources, that will never change,  but I do feel that the system should be doing more to ensure that learners and teachers have more access to digital windows on the world. At moment some folks are just glimpsing the future through a keyhole.

Good luck to all those in    and I look forward to following your careers on twitter and through  your blogs. These tools will keep you  plugged into a professional learning network and that will help you a lot whenever the going gets tough.

And   I really do believe that within the next five years you and your learners will be operating in most of the world I described

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

#Bett2014 #Bett14 Day Three

Starting to get exhibition area crazy and to this point I have only been criss crossing the space for meetings but  I had a wander around finally.

Lots of on-line toll gated learning content , lots of international stands,  more I think than in past years  , but while I enjoyed watching some sessions on practise nothing really jumping out . This more about things I see over year - for many there may have been some new stuff.

 A lot of stands have all kinds of ways to lock down , store securely , charge, manage apps across class sets of tablets or laptops . I know these things are expensive assets but I am still not sure why we are not thinking of keeping these in learners hands more. I think we're missing the point somewhere here.

Also a fixation on capturing and analysing big data. It seems the natural adjunct to on-line evidence and assessment and perhaps heralds the way for more diagnostic and learner directed assessment.  I worry that a lot of this collection  is for its own sake .  Just because it can generate lots of data does not mean something has any impact at all on learning.

Think special mention to a Scottish company earning plaudits around world for their flexible filtering system for schools . Though I like my learning unfiltered ! I do appreciate need for this in primary schools

This Brazillian company looks really interesting check out the English version of the site - with 5 million users . Philosphy and technology all look very sound .

One thing and I guess it will be backed up by their financials Microsoft with new range of devices,
windows 8  getting better and  365 for education  really seem to have stepped up to the mark .

Managed to miss Skills Minister Matthew Hancock's speech which deserves a read ..already impressed by the work of FELTAG in England ..looks too more will come of this with Stephen Heppell at the head of things  . I think some of this shows that the spin doctors picked up the reaction to Michael Gove's opening address - perhaps this was the antidote.

Had a great lunch time meeting with Greg Butler and hope we can get Scotland to join the Collaborative Assessment Alliance

Final round of meetings with some customers , Jim Fanning of Education Scotland and some folks who had picked up conversation on twitter

Hear too that a few Scottish local authorities have been spotted doing the rounds ..
Another case I think for having some Scottish stand or a more formal gathering,  it would have been great to reflect on some more of these things with peers and share notes.

Know too there were a few more folks I could and should have said hello to. Sorry never enough time.

Then run for the airport  .

New venue is great , wifi worked , spotlight sessions excellent ..few I caught between meetings.

#Bett14 #Bett2014 Day Two

Seems strange to be almost queuing up to get in at 10am -

Meeting with Microsoft  partners - we are not doing all and getting all we could out of Partners in Learning , Kodu Cup , Global Forum and making the best use of the few innovative educator experts we have in Scotland. Was great to catch up with Stuart Ball on a high from winning BETT Award for Kodu Game Lab in UK . Hope we have now mapped out how to push this along . He gave me a few new contacts in Microsoft UK to help with this

Then meeting with Alison Drever  from Education Scotland so much happening and enormous potential in computing area. It is great that there is once more Education Scotland expert practitioner in this space and a real willingness to pull our collective assets together

Then in quick succession met Ollie Bray , Doug Belshaw and Jaye Richards - all presenting at #Bett2014
( Gosh do you only meet people with Blogs at Bett?)

Headed then back to Westminster for twilight session on new models of assessment with Collaborative Assessment Alliance . Some great ideas and met some old friends .

A lot of discussion around how technology is being used in different ways for assessment.
The technology for  pretty individualised assessment is already with us  but so much has to change around mind sets .  Some great examples of peer assessment around things like e-portfolios.

Finally met up with some pioneers of virtual worlds and online simulations and realising at this point I had skipped lunch had a late dinner in Covent Garden ,  picked  up some great business ideas too.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

#BETT14 #BETT2014 Day One

There is a curious juxtaposition this year . Opposite BETT is an exhibition by companies selling fairground equipment and gaming machines to lure in young people and inside BETT....

Was an illuminating day Mr Gove rightly talked up the strengths in the UK education system and some of the companies  doing a lot of exporting .  One that was new to me was now with over 5 million global English learners .

I took a lot of notes about what he then said about ICT in the classroom and the new English computing curriculum - it did not square with the  debates I have been following and I think this TES piece probably captures this better than I could express as an outsider.  Still I am interested in harnessing and harvesting any resources that come out of this for computing teachers in Scotland . He did mention open education as the way ahead but then used as his example MOOCs aimed at school pupils notably the Raspberry PI OCR partnership putting GCSE materials on-line   
Highlighted too that Cambridge University are about to launch a transitional maths mooc for school pupils heading towards Maths or Engineering at University.

I then contributed to a lively debate with peers on the Miranda Net Programme  It is running all throughout BETT and worth finding and popping in . A view from the audience here
I think it shows that higher education folks are still not sure how to react to open learning - I think they still hope it is a passing fad rather than something that allows them simply to reach more learners and help them.
Donald Clarke probably stole the show .

Next I was another talking head being interviewed for the European Open Education Challenge . Seed funding for start ups in and around learning . I was asked "The how is learning , assessment and certification going to change over the next few years question" .  Look foreword to seeing this and seeing if I made any sense

Ended day with meetings with some of our long term commercial partners and quick hellos to Microsoft and some other folks I'll be meeting later in week. Spotted too a few well known Scotsmen on the make  but acting independently.  We really should have Scottish stand at Bett see Korea have one this year. Had a chance to mourn passing of BECTA with some old colleagues - certainly feels that schools could do with more independent advice on IT procurements - lot of very slick sales people here. Not even sure who is capturing good practice on classroom use of new things down here - but perhaps that is just passe - as a thousand flowers bloom.

You can see why role of membership organisations like  and and ofcourse are important places for folks to share .. but can't help thinking there should be a bit more leadership here. Would help the exporters too.

Now frazzled - glad I was not at #Bettawards this year but looking forward to finding out who won what.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

#BETT14 Here we go again !

I am heading down to BETT14 on Tuesday afternoon for some pre-meetings and then the usual busy diary of meetings in and around the conference.  Staying back in familiar territory near Gloucester Road Underground this year,  after last year's foray to Greenwich, so hope to be able to network longer without worrying about missing the last light rail train across the water.  Reflections last few years here 

I can't claim to have been at this event for last 30 years but I've attended since the mid 1990's

My diary is pretty full but  - If  you have something unique and engaging aimed at any part of the assessment , e-portfolio space or you have some genuinely open learning or you are looking for meaningful partnerships with school , college or vocational learning space either in Scotland or internationally then I would be interested in talking to you.  I am easy to get hold of - just tweet something to @joecar and I'll respond.

Scottish Education really is very unique and very distinct to what is on offer in the school , college and vocational space in England.  Remember if you have attended the The World Education Forum  you may have been persuaded that we only do things in one way in the UK . In fact the Scottish Education tradition has been distinct for centuries.
I am not even sure if there will be a Scottish voice at this pre-Bett  Forum this year ?

My ambition of having a joint agency Scottish stand at Bett still has still to come to fruition - maybe one day.

When I arrive I'll share notes with colleagues who will have been down hearing about a major global learning project we have been tracking for the last three years New Pedagogies for Deep Learning: A Global Partnership .On Thursday afternoon/evening  I am attending the related strand on new modes of assessment. I am hoping that we and Education Scotland can plug into this project and a relevant juncture.

Around conference I am meeting usual suspects from Microsoft , Google and other global vendors . It is remarkable change that over last 12 or so years many of the big global vendors tend to be in and around the event but no longer take stands - I think this just reflects changing business models - the resellers fill the gap and the stands are no longer just about the technology but how the technology is deployed in classrooms.
Great too the folks now talking about how it is done are teachers who really use the technology with their learners.

I'll be dipping in and out of the various strands of the conference programme too

  • School Leaders Summit
  • Workplace Learning Summit
  • Technology in Higher Education Summit

  • Here is a snap shot

    Wednesday morning I'll catch the ministerial address and then vendor meetings and then speaking at Talking about potential of harnessing massive open on-line courses for staff development incorporation into school and college classrooms - and probably a bit more too

    Picking up some meetings in afternoon with some business partners.

    Thursday morning meeting with vendor partners and in afternoon meeting some companies with new models for on-line assessment - then picking up New Pedagogies Conference . Meeting some folks who are into gamification and virtual worlds for assessment in evening.

    Friday - Morning to explore exhibition area and catch some of the presentations - business lunch and catching up with James Fanning of Education Scotland before running back to Airport .

    My top tip - you will hear a lot of self centred crap from those who have not spent a lot of time in front of real learners - if you work in Education policy - please do not feel inadequate in front of lots of expensive glossy technology .

    If  you really work in school , college or work based learning - then challenge these policy makers , tekkies and pseudo education leaders to deliver things that help the learners in front of you. Think ahead too what will help learners over next 3-5 years.

    A learner without access to a browser and wifi - is at an educational disadvantage.

    Have a mind open enough to see what you can do to change things for your learners .. but be street wise enough not to buy the latest gizmo with a fifty year lease back and a maintenance licence that will mortgage their future.

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013

    2013 in Review

    Waterlogue  App One of this year's discoveries 

    Some quick reflections on 2013   ( 2012 , 2011, 2010, 20092008  etc ) . A lot of this year has been spent trying to push on with the new while getting bits of the system to understand and hold on to the best bits of some of our legacy projects. In everything it is all about communication at all levels. If anything the ever increasing flow of great ideas across education just highlights more how structures and hierarchies need to change to become much more open.  We are still trying to do the same things with new technology plugged in - we are not yet confident enough to really use it to fundamentally change how we do things for learners - and this needs system change and open minds across the educational system.

    This year started with an interview for the Times Educational Supplement talking about some of the big changes that are coming and then filled out with usual range of practical projects to support learners.

    1. International Articulation work took me to Istanbul and some other exciting places. The work here helps students doing HND and other awards move around the world and cements the international value of our qualifications for Scottish learners. This will open up the doors of more European institutions to Scottish learners  in the coming year.

    2. We spent some time looking at the appetite of colleges , schools and training providers in Scotland for more support in direct delivery to learners . There will probably be more developments too here next year
    With common units across Scotland there is so much more we could be doing collaboratively in schools , further education and into the workplace - there is huge potential for much greater flexibility for learners.

    3. Open Badges .. and finally .. after almost two years of pushing policy changes through system we were able to say some sensible level headed things about the benefits of open badges . I think many folks are just beginning to understand the potential here for learners and there are still some challenges too to be ironed out around display etc

    4. Open Educational Resources . Have to thank the on-going support of JISC , ALT , CETIS , RSC Scotland , College Development Network  and many others for helping to open up the policy debate around open educational resources in Scotland . ( It should not be a debate - we should have some national policies here) Special thanks to Lorna Campbell  of Cetis for going  extra mile on this.
    We have made some tangible progress . The Open Scotland event was very successful and we suceeded in getting all the right agencies along and engagement from policy makers . Please follow the blog and join ALT and the join our Scottish sig .  I will be moving this debate on again in coming year supporting organisation of both ALT-C 2014 and OER14 

    5. I usually get to meet most of the folks with interesting content or ideas for education - this year a lot of these meetings were with different groups trying to get more programming into schools one way or another - robots , gamification , computational thinking . All good stuff but was clearly the year of computing panic across UK . I hope for sake of learners and teachers this gets more coherent next year. At qualifications end the new national 4 and 5 awards in computer science should be able to embed most of this - badges and some other developments should help further down schools.

    6. In the evenings and quite a lot of evenings this year I played my part in merging three Glasgow colleges to become Glasgow Clyde College. I am currently chair of the college's learning and teaching committee - having been through the pain of merger and of  regionalisation, next year we will all be looking for the dividends that the new regional structures should give Colleges across Scotland.

    And looking on across next year - Early in the new year folks will come to realise how useful the new Glow with Microsoft 365 built in will be for teachers and learners.  In the spring there will be more active debate and finally some action around digital participation across Scotland. By summer the new National 4 and 5 qualifications will be in place for all learners across Scotland . In the autumn and beyond we will see if all the work done to support volunteers , stewarding , security , broadcasting , catering , customer care and more for the Commonwealth Games  Glasgow 2014 delivers the legacy it promises and we will too find out where Scotland's destiny lies 

    Over year too I expect to see more coherent attempts by a range of agencies to open up data in Scotland in a way where learners can finally track their own learner journey and they can see potential value of different courses in supporting their journey.

    Some observations on my own use of technology this year

    Blogging less and less and using twitter more and more
    I miss Google Reader , found Digg Reader as replacement but use it less that I thought
    Probably picking up more info from Twitter than from RSS Feeds ?
    I like my tablet for consuming information and taking notes in meetings .
    But I still need a computer -lap-top or desktop to be really productive
    I bid farewell to my corporate blackberry and hello to a new shiny Sony Xperia and apologies to all who keep getting twitter invitations  and reminders to join me on twitter from my new phone - still haven't figured out how to switch these off

    Finally thanks to my team and all those in SQA for continuing to support me and give me the opportunity to explore new ventures . Thanks too to all of you and all the folks in my broader personal learning network across Scotland , UK and beyond for all the great ideas and support over the year.

    2014 will be a great year for global learning - Happy New Year when it comes -

    Friday, December 06, 2013

    #GLOW New GLOW

    Just had a poke about new look Glow now with added Microsoft365
    This is looking like the amazing platform - that Glow always had potential to become
    Well done folks !

    Don't know what GLOW is find out here

    Friday, November 01, 2013

    #OpenScotland from #EADTU Conference from @LornaMCampbell

    Re-posting this excellent presentation from Lorna Campbell here to get more folks to consider the policy gap that does exist in Scotland around promoting a culture of developing , sharing and re-using open educational resources across all of  public education.

    Will stick it up too on SQA intranet - it is a handy over view of what is happening across Scotland in terms of opening up education. 

    Tuesday, October 22, 2013

    So SQA and #Openbadges What does that Really Mean ? #Mozfest

     In has taken a longer gestation period than I expected it to - but that is sometimes simply the nature of something worthwhile - but finally and with  the support of a number of colleagues from across  the SQA we had a paper accepted and approved by the necessary committees and we can move ahead in supporting #openbadges.

    The press release came out two weeks ago and generated quite a lot of twitter traffic and a lot of emails too.
    I thought it was worth setting out just what has been agreed.

    I am speaking to Mozillians on Wednesday night and on Saturday I am a guest at Mozfest in London to speak to some of the many English based awarding bodies on the national approach we are taking to #Openbadges in Scotland.

    I hope too to meet some other national awarding and accreditation bodies from around the world and compare notes on their approaches to #openbadges

    We already have generated a lot of interest from corporate sector and from a number of professional bodies who are interested in our approach from across the UK.

    Here is substance in terms of press release -

     Over the last two years we have been in dialogue with the Mozilla Foundation.

    The Scottish Qualifications Authority supports the concept of Open Badges and is working in partnership with the Open Badges in Scottish Education Group  to support the adoption of Open Badges across a range of sectors.

    We believe that the infrastructure promotes and supports greater flexibility for learning and the recognition of achievement.

    Within the national context we believe that Open Badges have the potential to: accredit significant small steps in a learner’s journey from informal learning to formal certification,  offer recognition for the achievement of single competencies and outcomes,  provide recognition for chunks of learning or performance smaller than would normally be recognised in national certification and national credit rating systems and that badges can  be used towards accreditation of prior learning where appropriate.

     In an organisational context: We will explore the adoption of Open Badges as part of the recognition that we can offer teachers and appointees through our SQA Academy Courses We will explore the possibilities that Open Badges offer in terms of digital certification in the future.

    Thursday, September 26, 2013

    Random Thoughts on Opening Up Education from #NAACE12

    Sunday, September 15, 2013

    Innocents Abroad

    Photo of EBS Choir Singing on Thursday Evening - thanks to @Finnfield for image 

    It is tough sometimes being an innocent abroad even an informed innocent. Last Tuesday evening I ran across Taksim Square , Istanbul , in a rush to get to the first of two evening receptions where my aim was to network like mad for Scottish education. As the second function was being hosted by Universities Scotland I had my kilt on.

    My guide to the city was the usual hastily grabbed map from the hotel lobby affixed with two biro crosses by the concierge. Yes,  I have all the gadgetry but sometimes even in London I can't get a GPRS signal. Darkness was falling. I was running , running late and overheating. When I got to the far side of Taksim Square and met the first row of police, I realised immediately that something was amiss . I realised too that the phalanx  was quite large and blocked my planned route up and through Istiklal Street .

    This was where the comedy started. As I stood studying my map looking for an alternative route around the roadblock,  a friendly, helpful policeman studied my predicament too and then pitying a sweaty foreigner , in a dress, with a map wholly inadequate for navigating the medieval back streets of Istanbul , he allowed me through the police lines.  I strode on up Istiklal Street - it is really beautiful.  I met another row of policemen , used sign language to explain that their colleagues had let me through and they waved me passed too and I climbed on,  past tables full of diners.

    My thoughts were now on  white or red ? , sneaking a cigarette before I made my entrance and what gastronomic delights lay ahead. This was the first night of the conference and I was hoping for Baba Ganoush,  Kofte Kebabs , steaming bowls of aromatic couscous and other Turkish delights.  I now too had the perfect excuse for arriving my usual ten minutes or so late.  So intent was I on my own musings that I hardly noticed that the street was busier now , even crowded. Quite a lot of nice smiling students poked some well meaning fun at the alien figure in the kilt striding up through their midst.

    I was now at the top of Istiklal Street and within half a mile of my final destination, only a few junctions and two more turns to navigate and I would be at the British Embassy.

    I am not sure when I noticed the immoveable shield wall. But it was suddenly right in front of me. You instinctively know when presented by authority's sternest face that negotiation here would be futile . As I turned smartly on my heels to find a lane or an alleyway to allow my continued progress. I noticed that some of the students I had just passed appeared now to be in some kind of fancy dress. As I squeezed passed them , my pace quickened  as I noticed they were actually pulling up ultra style scarf face masks and some of them had unmistakably either gas masks or some other sort of full head hood to protect you from chemical weapons. I was now jogging to get away from this potential confrontation.

    Then all hell broke loose.

    I did not need to look around to know that the riot police were charging down the hill . I was now a sprinting man in a kilt doing my best to negotiate a rapid descent down a poorly lit cobbled  street. The steps outside basement bars and restaurants now threatened broken limbs,  as some of the swifter protesters elbowed me in our shared eagerness to keep away from and ahead of the riot police.

    Probably, just at the moment as I heard things being fired at us and ricocheting off the buildings around us , a well lit lane with some alarmed looking diners appeared to my left . I pitched down this, was quickly identified as a hapless tourist and was ushered into the bar with the other startled guests .

    The shutters came down and the streets filled with shrieks and tear gas.

    And now I know basement bars are not good places to hide from tear gas.

    Postscript - That evening I was just in the wrong place at precisely the wrong time - the following evening I traveled the same route for dinner at the British Consulate without incident .

    I actually thought that the police were letting me through as I was heading away from any trouble spots.

     Istanbul is one of the largest cities in the world at almost 14 million and while like any city you have to keep your wits about you I would have no hesitation in going back and taking my family with me  , the folk are friendly and the glimpses I caught of the ancient city were spectacular. When I finally got some,  the food too as might be expected is exceptional.

    Thursday, August 29, 2013

    The Changing Face of Social Media

    Dorpsomroeper / Town-crier
    When I started blogging regularly in 2000 I knew that social media or social publishing was the future for most things. But it would take a long time for the world to catch up.

    When I moved from the Scottish Further Education Unit to the Scottish Qualifications Authority in 2003.  I was not really surprised by the high degree of suspicion around things like blogs and then things like twitter .

    Even though I have always made it clear that I used these things in an unofficial capacity.  I had to go with SQA's then CEO's blessing to our Scottish Govt sponsoring department to get permission to blog in any capacity. 

    I was not doing it to be subversive but simply to reach the parts of the world that a more official means never really reaches - perhaps that is subversive. I was pleased too to see schools and what was then Learning and Teaching Scotland staff getting the blogging bug.

    I have to say everyone in the end was always reluctantly supportive of what I was doing usually when I pointed to who and where we were generating business through my use of social media - but there was always, a sometimes silent  majority and sometimes some quite vocal and threatening pokes, usually from other agencies,  that would have quite liked a bit less blogging and tweeting from my direction .

    The world has changed - I enjoyed reading our organisation's  latest social media metrics report this month.

    ·         Within those authors directly referencing SQA, we are encouraged by the continual engagement created by Joe Wilson and Tahir Mohammed, with both authors continually growing their following and becoming authoritative voices in the education sector.

    Yes we do social media metrics now -  and  we now have an organisational social media policy.

    I hope that means that New Ventures and innovation is getting a bit closer to the heart of what we do and not that I am now being overtaken by events.

    If you are a lone educational blogger or twitterer in your organisation - keep the faith and keep sharing - it really will be alright in the end.

    I would still like to see a much longer list of SQA staff on this list and I think that many other public organisations have a long way to go too.

    Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    #altc2013: Building New Cultures of Learning

    Every year  I meet lots of people having either that ICT eureka moment or being stuck with some challenge that other folks in a different education sector figured out a while ago.

    The ALT Conference is a great opportunity to both have your own eureka moment and to solve that technological hang up that is stopping your learners and your institution making progress.  In this most exciting of all learning frontiers.

    The 20th annual conference of the Association for Learning Technology
    will be held at the East Midlands Conference Centre, University of
    Nottingham from 10-12 September 2013. This year the conference
    features keynotes from Stephen Downes, Wendy Hall and Rachel Wenstone,
    as well as special events to mark the 20th anniversary.

    Late registration will be open until approximately two weeks before
    the conference so book now to avoid disappointment! If you are an ALT
    member you are entitled to a 20% discount on all conference fees.
    Register via

    Thursday, August 01, 2013

    Open Badges Scotland and SCOOB Group #openbadges

    Really just using a range of vehicles including my own blog to promote membership of the Scottish Open Badges Group.

    See communication below from Grainne Hamilton JISC Regional Support Centre Scotland

    Over recent months there has been increasing interest in the digital, standards-based, open accreditation framework called Open Badges The Open Badges Infrastructure, which is being developed by Mozilla and shaped by an international community of people interested in accreditation, can be used to issue, display and earn digital representations of awards. A number of high profile organisations, educational institutions and communities such as NASA, Microsoft, De Paul University and the City of Chicago are already using Open Badges to reward and recognise hard and soft skills, achievements, attributes, contributions and so on.

    In Scotland, interest has been growing in the opportunities afforded by Open Badges to augment traditional accreditation routes. A recent Jisc RSC Scotland event, the Open Badges Design Day, provided an opportunity for people to work with the Mozilla Badges and Skills Lead to consider the framework and possible badge-based pathways to learning. At this event, there was consensus that it would be useful to bring together interested parties to identify areas where Open Badges could add value to education in Scotland and to co-develop such badges.

    The Jisc RSC Scotland has, therefore, convened the Scottish Open Badges (SCOOB) Group, which has met once and agreed that members will perform an overview and mapping function of Open Badges developments in Scotland, set up a number of sub-groups to jointly take forward specific areas of Open Badges work (to be agreed) and consider and develop badge pathways. The group hopes that through the input of representatives from a variety of educational institutions and agencies in Scotland, we will be able to consider synergies between different stages on a learner's formal and informal learning journey and contribute to the development of a badge eco-system within Scotland.

    We want to ensure a broad representation on the SCOOB Group and sub-groups and would like to hear from anyone in Scottish education interested in joining them.

    To note interest in becoming a member or if you would like more information about the kinds of areas the sub-groups might cover, please email Please include a list of any particular areas of interest you have regarding Open Badges.

    Sunday, June 23, 2013

    Mozilla Badges #InAfS

    Badger , Badger but watch out for any snake-oil

    To make my new year's prediction come true - I've been doing a bit of work in the background to get Mozilla Badge Making and Earning  an established part of the Scottish learning firmament.

    Think about a different way of credentialing you or your learners skills . A way that is on-line, in the cloud  and portable. You can add a badge to your online identity or resume when you want to, no more hunts in cupboards and attics for paper certificates and you can decide what , when and where you want to share your badges.

    The infrastructure can make public,  the learning outcomes you achieved , the awarding agency, the assessors, even the work that was produced for the assessment can be digitally linked to the badge.

    Add to this some quite well built out systems in areas like web-design and coding for the web and Mozilla Badges offer a real opportunity to change the way we think about the recognition of achievement.

    The system also offers,  the opportunity to bread-crumb learning outcomes towards national qualifications and a mechanism for providing recognition for chunks of learning smaller than would normally be recognised either by formal qualifications or by national credit frameworks like the SCQF ( normally learning of less that 10 hours is not recognised) .The system could allow centres to quickly build customised awards where they want these .

    Ideal too for primary and secondary schools and other groups that may want a flexible recognition of achievement system.

    Have a look at how the  JISC RSC Scotland have built badges that provide steps towards a range of national recognition and recognition too through professional standardsThe Jisc RSC Scotland are making extensive use of the Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI), which enables an open, standards-based way to issue digital recognition and accreditation. 

    In areas like web-design centres should be using the well developed on-line resources and badges and offering accreditation of prior learning for relevant badges towards larger national awards.

    Mozilla Badges  will become in time the natural adjunct to any e-portfolio .

    The Scottish Qualifications Authority is exploring how open badges can be built into the national qualifications system. We are hosting an event next Tuesday in Glasgow to see what else we can do to support and promote the flexibility for centres and learners that Mozilla Badges offer.

    #OpenScotland #OER

    On the 27th of June a group of decision makers from across Scottish Education will gather in Edinburgh for "Open Scotland".  

    Open Scotland is a one day summit facilitated by Jisc CETIS in collaboration with SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG. 
    The event will provide an opportunity for key stakeholders to critically reflect on the national and global impact and opportunities of open education, provide a forum to identify shared strategic interests and work towards a more integrated Scottish approach to openness in education.
    A smarter Scotland is critical to delivering the Government's Purpose of achieving sustainable economic growth. By making Scotland smarter, we will lay the foundations for the future wellbeing and achievement of our children and young people, increase skill levels across the population and better channel the outputs of our universities and colleges into sustainable wealth creation, especially participation, productivity and economic growth.”

    How can Scotland leverage the power of “open” to develop the nation’s unique education offering? Can openness promote strategic advantage while at the same time supporting social inclusion, inter-institutional collaboration and sharing, and create new opportunities for the next generation of teachers and learners? 

    The Scottish Government’s ‘Scotland’s Digital Future’ strategy, published in 2011, sets out the steps that are required to ensure Scotland is well placed to take full advantage of all the economic, social and environmental opportunities offered by the digital age.  However, whilst the Scottish Government has been active in advocating the adoption of open data policies and licences it has yet to articulate policies for open education and open educational resources. 

     In March 2013, the Scottish Funding Council published a ‘Further and Higher Education ICT Strategy’ that builds on the Scottish further and higher education sectors’ culture of collaboration and the range of national shared services that are already in place, many of which are supported by Jisc, JANET UK and others.  

    What kinds of open policies and practices can we develop and share across all sectors of Scottish education to help implement these strategies and move them forward?

    Scotland has a proud and distinctive tradition of education, which is recognised internationally.  The Curriculum for Excellence is transforming schools to better equip our children for the challenges of the 21st century.  With our colleges and universities experiencing major changes in terms of structure, funding and access, Scotland’s colleges are opening up their educational content to the world through the new Re:Source OER repository.  
    The University of Edinburgh have pioneered the delivery of MOOCs in Scotland, recently attracting over 300,000 students to six online courses, and Napier University is embracing open practice through their open 3E Framework for teaching with technology, which has been adopted by over 20 institutions globally.  The Jisc RSC Scotland are making extensive use of the Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI), which enables an open, standards-based way to issue digital recognition and accreditation. The Scottish Qualifications Authority is exploring how open badges can be built into the national qualifications system and the ICT Excellence Group, which is overseeing the re-development of the Scottish schools' intranet GLOW, are also investigating their potential use

    Elsewhere, the HEFCE funded UKOER Programme has been instrumental in stimulating the release of open educational resources and embedding open practice in English HE institutions.  SURFNet in the Netherlands recently published their second ‘Trends Report on OER’, and a group of Nordic countries have launched the Nordic Alliance for OER. The UNESCO 2012 Paris Declaration called on governments to openly license publicly funded educational materials, and later that year the European Union issued a public consultation on “Opening up Education – a proposal for a European initiative” in advance of a new EU Initiative on "Opening up Education" expected to launch in mid-2013. Underpinning many of these developments is an increased acceptance and adoption of Creative Commons licences.

    We are experiencing a period of unprecedented flux in all sectors of teaching and learning.  For better or for worse, the advent of MOOCs has opened a public debate on the future direction of post-school education, though the balance of commercial opportunities and threats from the increased marketisation and commodification of education is  still unclear.

    Open Scotland is a one day summit facilitated by Jisc CETIS in collaboration with SQA,  Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG.  The event will provide an opportunity for key stakeholders to critically reflect on the national and global impact and opportunities of open education, provide a forum to identify shared strategic interests and work towards a more integrated Scottish approach to openness in education.

    “UNESCO believes that universal access to high quality education is key to the building of peace, sustainable social and economic development, and intercultural dialogue. Open Educational Resources (OER) provide a strategic opportunity to improve the quality of education as well as facilitate policy dialogue, knowledge sharing and capacity building.”

    I hope the gathering  will decide that we must have some simple policy drivers in Scotland to encourage individual and institutional open sharing , re-purposing and re-use of learning materials . The right decisions here will lay the foundations for lifelong learning in Scotland for generations to come.

    Ultimately I think this will take some firm leadership and some political decision making.
     It has taken some mandating in other countries to make open and shared the norm.

    I am very grateful to my colleagues at CETIS and the membership of the Association for Learning Technology for making this gathering possible 

    Six Months of Programming and MooC'ing around

    In between real work I've been doing less blogging over last six months some of the time I have been doing a wee bit to support a range of initiatives in computer programming and coding domains. I also spent some time - usually in the wee small hours having a shot at some massive open on-line courses. I feed these experiences back into the day job as Head of New Ventures.

    In programming space there are so many local , UK , global  offers in this space it can be quite hard to keep track on all of them.  They are all focused on learner and teacher engagement and around skill building.  Some are established global initiatives and some have more specific UK drivers - many are in response to the hiatus in England around GCSE  ICT/Computing space in the curriculum while  some others  focus more broadly on computational thinking for learners of any age.

    Since Christmas SQA  have given bits of support to

    One Day Digital 
    Coder Dojo
    Space Apps Challenge
    Kodu Cup
    Apps for Good

    A bit of support might be as simple as using our networks to raise awareness of a specific initiative . In case anyone else is reading this and assuming SQA event sponsorship.

    It would be useful if someone tried to capture all of these initiatives open to Scottish teachers and learners in one place. Perhaps a mission for either Computing at School or or for somewhere in GLOW

    I also had a go at three MOOCs and dropped out of all of them . I enjoyed the Mozilla Mooc best of all . I like re-mixing content but doing it in wee small hours was taking a toll on me - liked the Mona-Lisa Shining mix was how I was starting to feel after all the late nights - the shining bit rather than Mone Lisa-ish bit

    I had a go at using Mozilla Popcorn to remix things - my feeble effort is here

    But I was blown away this week by this creation from the Edinburgh University Digital Creations MOOC

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

    #Teachtheweb Homework

    Thanks to a template for introductions I remixed this in about an hour with some of my
    own bits and bobs . I could not work out out to end session - so there is a lot of white noise at the end of this . But overall what an easy tool to use -

    I think anyone could have a lot of fun with these tools

    Tuesday, May 07, 2013

    #teachtheweb RSA Animate - The Power of Networks

    I am having a shot at the Mozilla #Teachtheweb massive open on-line course. A large part of this is simply about learning through networks . A colleague from Canada reminded me about this excellent video from the Royal Academy of Arts in London . It makes a great intellectual argument around why teachers need personal learning networks - in fact folks in every occupation need this kind of globally connected network